April 30, 2004

Bureaucratic Bullshit

Posted in General at 3:52 pm by Ian

So far today I have encountered two examples of institutional idiocy.

Idiocy the First: We started with the La Verne post office. I called earlier today to see if I could schedule an appointment to get my passport done. It is done only by appointment there. The guy who answered the phone first put me on hold (long enough to get whoever could actually solve my problem out of the office, I assume), and then informed me that the woman who did those things was processing a passport, and would call me back. One hour passed. I left to go work on MallardBane. A few hours later I called again. This time, I was told that the woman who did “all of that” hadn’t come in today. I pointed out the discrepancy between that and what I had been told this morning. He said he would take my name and number for her. I asked why he couldn’t just schedule one for me?

He said that they just let her do all the scheduling, because she wasn’t in all that often.

Wouldn’t that be all the more reason to let others do the scheduling? I wondered. Aloud.

Apparently it would not, because no one knew when she was coming in and could be scheduled.

Had they considered using some sort of appointment book, perhaps? I said in the nicest of ways.

Ah, they had, it seems, but people were still scheduled when she wasn’t in, because she had other things to do for her real job. You see, this is just a service that they provide.

Not much of one.

I also restrained myself from pointing out that what they had done was had an appointment book. They hadn’t gotten all the way to the using it stage.

Idiocy the Second: I received a package yesterday. For an arbitrary and probably very stupid reason, packages are delivered to either the Dean of Students’ office or to the Registrar’s office, which, I suppose it goes without saying, have different hours, different storage rooms, and different notification methods. My package was at the Registrar’s. But right now is class registration for the frosh. So there were many people at the Registrar. So many, in fact, that after waiting for 10 minutes and extrapolating out the rest of the line, I decided to make a bold move.

“Noel,” I said, “do you think you trust me enough to go get my package?”

She did not, but said she’d help me next. Next ended up being still quite a little while away, I popped over to DOS, and asked if they could get to the Registrar’s package storage area. No (of course not), because they were not given a key.

When Noel finally came out, I asked:
“So, have you ever considered doing the packages together with DOS? That way in high traffic times, it would take some of the load off.”
“Well, it was set up separately long before I got here. One room wasn’t big enough for all the packages.”
“Right, but you could still both use both rooms, if necessary, right? Or use one as overflow?”
“But we’re responsible for these. If they leave the door open, we have to replace things.”
“…. You mean the school has to replace them, right? And that’s the Dean of Students office…”
“They’ve never wanted to.”
“I just asked, and Rita said you just never gave them a key.”
“They never gave us a key either.”
“So, wouldn’t this be a great time to pitch in and forge some cooperation there, for the benefit of yourselves and the students?”

It would not be, apparently.




  1. JT said,

    So…why does your college not have a specific office to deal specifically with mail? How big is your college? This is something I’m very confused about, for our college has what is called the Service Bureau, which not only takes charge of all campus mail, but also has a plethora of office supplies, and generally serves as a local Kinkos-type entity. Perhaps your college should look into something like this (not that is does any good to you anymore…)

  2. Kyle said,

    Yes, UCLA has a campus mail system also. It sucks. In many ways it sucks. When living in the dorms it would take as long for a package from home to get from northern california to UCLA as it would to filter through UCLA into a “you have a package” slip in my mailbox. It also takes considerably longer to send anything through the “convenient” campus mailboxes, (sending, say, applications for summer research programs to the appropriate buildings) Than it does to use normal mail.
    Go organization.
    Or lack thereof. :doh:

  3. Sarra said,

    I admit, Scripps has this miraculous entity called the “mail room” where all the packages get sent, and where they (usually) manage to get package slips in your mailbox the same day they receive the package.

    Perhaps Mudd could look into one of those?

  4. Ian said,

    JT, Harvey Mudd has fewer than 800 students. We don’t really rate a designated mail office.

  5. JT said,

    Hey, we only have about 1000 students at Doane, and we’ve had our Service Bureau since we were much smaller. As far as I know, there’s only like 3 or 4 people that work there, but all the mail speeds around to the students pretty quickly. It’s quite an impressive operation. Perhaps our colleges could get together and learn from each other? I’m sure you guys have something much cooler out there that Doane could improve upon here(like the cafeteria…year round suckage…)

  6. Dad said,

    Fortunately, you are about to leave the academic community, where such inefficiencies and bureaucratic silliness runs rampant, and join corporate America, where everything is done perfectly 😉 Whatever will Evil Blog have to talk about?

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